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The Woodlanders

Thomas Hardy

Book Overview: 

The story takes place in a small woodland village called Little Hintock, and concerns the efforts of an honest woodsman, Giles Winterborne, to marry his childhood sweetheart, Grace Melbury. Although they have been informally betrothed for some time, her father has made financial sacrifices to give his adored only child a superior education and no longer considers Giles good enough for her.

The Woodlanders marks the beginnings of controversy for Hardy’s novels. At this point in his career he was established enough as a writer to take risks, especially in the areas of sex, sexual attraction, marriage, divorce, marital fidelity, unconventional plots and tones, and seemingly immoral conclusions.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Farmer Bawtree and the hollow-turner, and tea went off very well.

Grace's disposition to make the best of everything, and to wink at deficiencies in Winterborne's menage, was so uniform and persistent that he suspected her of seeing even more deficiencies than he was aware of. That suppressed sympathy which had showed in her face ever since her arrival told him as much too plainly.

"This muddling style of house-keeping is what you've not lately been used to, I suppose?" he said, when they were a little apart.

"No; but I like it; it reminds me so pleasantly that everything here in dear old Hintock is just as it used to be. The oil is—not quite nice; but everything else is."

"The oil?"

"On the chairs, I mean; because it gets on one's dress. Still, mine is not a new one."

Giles found that Creedle, in his zeal to make things look bright, had smeared the chairs with some greasy kind of furn. . . Read More

Community Reviews

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

The De-fanging of Menfolk: "The Woodlanders" by Thomas Hardy

Another Hardy character to rival Sue Bridehead in emotional complexity is, I feel, Grace Melbury in The Woodlanders. Grace is the young country girl sent away by her vain and a...more

Apparently, this is Thomas Hardy's favorite of all the novels he wrote.

My order of Thomas Hardy favorites is:

MOST FAVORITE: Far From the Madding Crowd
Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Return of the Native
The Woodlanders
Under the Greenwood Tree
Two in a Tower
A Pair of Blue Eyes
Mayor of Casterbridge
The Well...more

“This phenomenal girl will be the light of my life while I am at Hintock; and the special beauty of the situation is that our attitude and relations to each other will be purely spiritual. Socially we can never be intimate. Anything like matrimonial intentions towards her, charming as she is, wou...more

Primer libro que leo de Thomas Hardy y me ha gustado mucho, la verdad es que he ido posponiendo leerle por todas la referencias al pesimismo que rodean todas sus novelas y es cierto, y aun siendo esta una de sus menos pesimistas, realmente lo es, toda la novela destila pesimismo y aunque en ocasi...more

El libro me enganchó desde el principio gracias a su ambientación, sin duda el punto fortísimo de la narración. Ese bosque otoñal y la forma de vida que se deriva de él me enamoraron, así como la forma en que Hardy va tejiendo y contando todo. Sin embargo me han fallado algo más los personajes (l...more

¡Qué bueno es este difunto escritor de otros tiempos! Su descripción de la naturaleza es minuciosa y desapasionada, acompañando los matices de la putrefacción de las hojas caídas durante el otoño y el invierno, y el despertar de la vida en la primavera. Una primavera con pájaros, pero esencialmen...more

Another magnificent masterpiece by Thomas Hardy.

This is the story of 4 people who lived in Blackmoor Vale.

Grace Melbury falls in love with Giles Winterborne. However, his father George Melbury found that his daughter is more appropriate to be engaged instead to Edred Fitzpiers, a handsome and you...more

Update--May 7, 2011: I took Hardy's The Woodlanders with me on a recent week-long camping trip to Yosemite National Park, and re-read it while there. It was truly wonderful to sit in some of the most idyllic natural locations in all of the world and read this most amazing novel. If anything, I go...more

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